The Pacers have been the best team in the league over the first half of the season, and have the best record to show for it. They’ve consistently played at an elite level, and Paul George has been the team’s best player during that stretch.
It makes sense, then, that the league would like to give some extra shine to George and the Pacers during its All-Star weekend festivities. As a result, George has reportedly been invited to take part in any or all of the exhibitions that take place on All-Star Saturday night.
Paul George was asked to take part in the slam dunk, 3pt, skills challenge at All-Stars. Hasn’t declined, but rather enjoy the weekend.
Though the chances are slim, George said he’ll consider competing in an event, and he plans to decide in the next few days.
Obviously, George won’t do all three, and if the league gets him for even one, it’ll be a huge boost to the event that he chooses.
The Pacers have made it clear that they are out to get the number one overall playoff seed after losing a Game 7 on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. All-Star weekend is often a time for players to rest and recharge, and with George already a lock to play in the main event that Sunday night, anything he chooses to participate in on Saturday would simply be an added bonus.
LeBron James says he was referring to only arena, not consideration of signing with Knicks
LeBron James said in reference to his "here or the Garden" comment that no other venue could have held this final duel between LeBron and Wade other than those two venues. (Not that he was thinking of signing with the #Knicks)
This was always the most likely explanation. The arenas in Los Angeles in New York are the NBA’s biggest stages, and LeBron has repeatedly stated his affection for Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have to think through all the implications to say those were the only appropriate locations.
Ultimately, I believe the given explanation that this was just about the arena’s allure and nothing more. An offhand remark needn’t completely follow the logic that either LeBron or Wade must play for the Knicks for them to meet at Madison Square Garden. But I’m not completely sold this wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at the Knicks.
Kings player after beating Bulls: ‘Uh-oh, another 2 1/2-hour practice for them tomorrow’
Including when Wade thanked LeBron for seeing that their last game was played at Staples Center, one of the legendary venues of the league. But it was LeBron’s response that turned heads:
“It was either here or The Garden. That’s it.”
Did the Knicks actually have a shot at LeBron last summer?
It doesn’t seem that way, considering LeBron made his decision to go to Los Angeles within 24 hours of the official start of free agency. There was no meeting with the Knicks, no serious contact in any way.
What LeBron was referring to (I think) was having their final game in one of the two brightest spotlights, one of the two most legendary venues in the NBA. Madison Square Garden and Staples Center have a vibe before Knicks and Lakers games that just doesn’t exist anywhere else — even when their teams are bad the venues are special and guys raise their games. It’s a combination of the markets, the big fan bases, and the history of the franchises, and the buildings (Shaq and Kobe basically built Staples Center). Much like a baseball game at Yankee Stadium/Fenway Park/Wrigley Field, there’s just something special about it that’s hard to quantify. It’s just different there.
That’s why the final game for LeBron and Wade had to be in Los Angeles or New York.
But Knicks fans, go ahead and dream of what might have been.
Three Things to Know: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s friendship changed the NBA
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s friendship changed the NBA. Monday night at Staples Center was the final time LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will share the court together.
It was a bittersweet moment appreciated by the Lakers fans (people new to LeBron fandom), who gave Wade a standing ovation when he entered the game.
Then those fans got to watch the old friends duel on the court like old times. (The pair came into this game 15-15 in head-to-head meetings, but LeBron now finishes with those bragging rights.)
Then, after Wade missed a desperation shot to tie the game late, the two men embraced and exchanged jerseys.
It was a fitting and emotional end to two Hall of Fame careers — ones that forever altered the league.
LeBron and Wade, along with Chris Bosh, fundamentally changed the NBA — they were the players that decided “we’re getting together and forming a super team.” Those players took charge of their destiny, they were not leaving it up to the white guys in suits to decide what they should do (although Pat Riley deserves credit for creating the space to give all three a landing spot). Then they went out and won rings (plural). Other superstars took note, and it’s not just Kevin Durant to the Warriors, it’s the shape of the NBA that is changing because these players owned their power.
Wade and LeBron formed a legendary Heat team that went to four straight Finals, winning two, and providing us with some of the greatest moments and memories in Finals history.
In a few years, they will be sitting on the back deck of Wade’s house in Miami, sharing a bottle of wine that you and I can’t afford, and reminiscing about those days and what they did. They earned that moment. And players who come after them should thank them for showing just how much leverage the players really have.
2) Celtics starting to figure it out, won sixth in a row while their fans dreamed of Anthony Davis. A couple of weeks ago, one of the hot discussion topics around the NBA was “what is wrong with the Boston Celtics?” They were 10-10 and struggling to score enough buckets to win.
Nobody is asking anymore. The Celtics have won six in a row, outscoring teams by a ridiculous 25.6 points per 100 possessions in that stretch.
Monday night — shorthanded without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford — they knocked off Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, 113-100. It was the kind of team win we have come to expect from the Celtics, with elite defense and someone stepping up on offense. This time it was Marcus Morris with 31 points.
That said, Anthony Davis had Celtics fans dreaming of what could be, scoring 41 and looking like the MVP candidate he is. Celtics fans cheered his introduction, and the Davis to Boston rumors will not die, even though Davis is not and will not be available for trade during this season (and Boston can’t trade for him during the season without sacrificing Irving due to CBA rules anyway).
While Davis was the best player on the court, the play everyone is talking out of this is Boston rookie Robert Williams blocking Davis.
The Celtics are racking up these wins through a soft part of their schedule, and that continues for a while (Wizards, Haws, the suddenly struggling Pistons, and the Suns make up their next four).
3) The Warriors are healthy and all back on the court together. Monday night Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green all took the court together for the first time since Nov. 5 — the Warriors are back.
Predictably, that was bad news for the visiting Timberwolves, who fell 116-108. Curry was doing Curry things again and had 38 points.
The Warriors have won four in a row. More telling, however, is how we have talked about Green’s and Curry’s injuries, tried to psychoanalyze the relationship between Green and Durant, and talked about their “problems” and yet here they are, 19-9 and just percentage points out of first in the West, and just starting to come together. Their “problems” have been overblown, and the league is now about to watch them get their legs under them again and go on a run.
Never doubt this is the best team in the NBA and if your team is dreaming of the Larry O’Brien trophy you’re going to have to pry it out of the Warriors’ hands.
BONUS THING TO KNOW: Boban Marjanovic‘s shot can be blocked? Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton is filling up the box score as a rookie, but his defense has a long, long way to go. That said, he had what many thought was the impossible blocked shot on Monday night, shutting down 7’3” Boban Marjanovic.